When Dr. Binoy Chattuparambil first touched down in the Cayman Islands, the thing that struck him was the traffic and the noise. There was not any.
“There was no honking, no pollution, it was so peaceful,” said ‘Dr. Binoy’, who arrived from the southern Indian city of Bangalore, which has a population of just over 8 million.
Dr. Binoy, Health City’s chief cardiac surgeon, is one of a growing number of Indian nationals in Cayman’s workforce.
The influx of Indian health professionals, many from the hospital’s sister facility in Bangalore, has been a large contributor to one of the more dramatic changes in the demographics of Cayman’s expatriate workforce.
Indian nationals now make up the fourth-largest group of foreign workers in the Cayman Islands, after Jamaicans, Filipinos and Brits.
The number of Indians on work permits jumped from 925 in 2016 to 1,301 at the end of 2018, a rise of 40%.
Cayman’s closest neighbour, Jamaica, is still the largest contributor to the workforce. There were 11,590 Jamaicans working on permits in Cayman at the end of 2018, up from just under 10,000 in 2016.
The Philippines has the second-largest number of work permit holders at 3,951, with the UK next at 1,809.
In total, there are approximately 130 nationalities now represented in Cayman’s workforce. Some nationalities were listed multiple times under differing names – such as Slovakia versus the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic versus the now dissolved Czechoslovakia – in government’s statistics.
Workers in Cayman span the globe, including countries as far afield as Rwanda, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Lesotho and Vietnam.
Steve McIntosh, a recruitment expert with CML who analysed the data for the Compass, said, “Unfortunately we don’t have good data to show the nationality of work permit holders by industry sector, but anecdotally I think the recent increase in work permit holders from India and Jamaica would reflect the growth in hospitality and construction.”
The growth of Health City has also had a clear impact on the changing make-up of Cayman’s expatriate workforce.
Dr. Binoy said the hospital has gradually increased its staffing since opening in 2014 and now has 300 employees, including 200 from India. The complex work that Health City does requires experienced medical professionals with qualifications and experience not currently available in Cayman.
Though there are long-term plans for a medical school on site, and Health City supporting career development for Caymanians, they currently rely heavily on imported workers. Dr. Binoy said a lot of the hospital’s technicians and orderlies come in teams for a short stint and then are replaced by others.
The wages in Cayman are higher, so it gives different staff the opportunity to earn good money for a period before returning to Bangalore.
He said many of the new arrivals shared his impressions about the peacefulness of the island and the friendliness of the people.
He said the hardest adjustment was to the workflow. In Bangalore, the medical teams were conducting as many as six heart surgeries in a single day, while the workload in Cayman is currently much smaller.
Shomari Scott, the hospital’s marketing director, said it was still in the early days of its growth. He hopes to see more Caymanians on the medical side of the business, and Health City is involved in numerous initiatives to support the expansion of medical careers.
He said there could be opportunities for trainee doctors from Cayman to work in the much busier sister hospital in Bangalore to gain experience.